The Honourable WH Watts of Wavertree

William Henry Watts resided at Elm Hall Penny Lane Mossley Hill Wavertree . Penny Lane is made famous by the world-acclaimed Beatles  and one of Liverpool' present-day top tourist attractions . But few visitors , or even Liverpudlians for that matter , know that the suburban thoroughfare has been haunted by a poltergeist in spiritism , certain phenomena , such as rapping , movement of furniture and breaking of crockery for which there is no apparent scientific explanation  for over a century . 

The earliest reports of this invisible nuisance date back to the 1890s when numerous people saw a globe of white light, surrounded by a blue aura hovering over a cottage on Greenbank Road . The eerie luminous sphere drifted towards Penny Lane and vanished behind trees .

As the week wore on a number of bizarre things took place on the lane .  An open carriage heading for Elm Hall shuddered and as much as the horses tried they could not pull the landau up Penny Lane for a full half hour . The wheels of the carriage seemed locked and the general consensus among the locals was that witchery was responsible .

When Liverpool’ most important buildings are discussed, it is surprising how often retailing is left out . In Quentin Hughes’ City of Architecture not a single shop features in his selection – a surprising omission . Cripp’s on Bold Street , GH Lee on Basnett Street , Lewis’ & Premier Buildings were all worthy of inclusion . However , the shop that should have been in for both architectural & historical significance is Compton House described by Joseph Sharples as majestic and of international significance because it was one of the earliest (if not the first) purpose-built department store , finished five years before Bon Marché in Paris .

Two brothers, William & JR Jeffrey financed a new building which opened in 1867  In Picton’ words  tragedy struck – ‘Mr William Jeffrey , the brother & right hand of the principal , was cut off suddenly by apoplexy and JR Jeffrey was left to fight his battle alone . The battle was a losing one .’ The receipts of the new shop never met the outgoings and in March 1871 , the shutters were closed .

The photograph here below shows its later reincarnation as Compton Hotel with William Russell as proprietor . On the ground floor , the shops are Lilly Addinsell - hatter & hosier, JR Cramer & Co , William Hay & Co and , on the right hand side Watts & Co , drapers .

The Census 1901 mentions for Elm Hall Penny Lane Wavertree – William H Watts , head 76y , Justice of Peace – Harriet ;  his wife 78y b Greenwich ; his son Herbert 44y Director of Company , b Liverpool & four daughters – Helena , Lillian , Annie & Marion all b Liverpool ; a cook , a waitress , two housemaids & a laundress thereby a coachman & his wife living at the nearby cottage . Old Ordnance Survey Maps & Gore' Directory mention a/o following Penny Lane residents between Oakvale road & Russell road - No 118 William Macdonald b ’69 Inverness , surgeon , MB, CM , LRCP, LRCS ; William Henry Watts , Esq , JP , silk mercer  ‘Elm Hall’ ; Herbert Watts , silk mercer ‘Elm Hall’ & John Thomas coachman .

At the age of 68 years , W H Watts bred his 1st KCSB recorded Mastiff litter dd May ’93 out of Polly sired by the huge ch Montgomery’ son Kaiser Frederick owned by the Liverpool goldbeater Henry Clay ; Polly was bred by another man of Liverpool , ie Dr Lougest who bred her from his Princess Victoria sired by ch Prince of Wales’ son Napoleon ; this litter contained a/o May King who got a 1st Limit at Birkenhead ’94 .

Watts’ other litters were - dd Jan ’95 out of Princess May sired by May King resulting in J Morgan’ Usk Gyp who was a winner at Brecon ; Princess May also bred by Dr Lougest  , ie out of Polly* sired by  King Dathi unr ; dd Jan ’96 out of Princess May sired by ch Mark Anthony resulting in Aunt Chloe & Spartan ; dd Aug ’97 out of Aunt Chloe sired by ch Peter Piper owned by Joseph Royle of Manchester ca thirty mls East of Liverpool , and it gave Uncle Tom ; dd Sept ’99 out of Aunt Chloe sired by ch Peter Piper , their sibling Kruger well-known for having sired Shearer Clark’ Sir Kenneth b ’04 , the latter fathered Zaccheus Walker’ brindle ch Britain’ Belle (see double illustration hereabove) & her fawn sis ch British Queen b  June '08 ; in their first KCSB entry (1909) , ie at Crystal Palace the latter received the cc whereas the brindle got 2nd prize open class & the reserve ticket under Dr John Sidney Turner and based upon the following show results it seems Queen was the better one of those sisters bred by Lt-Col Z Walker .  Just for the record -  Kruger also sired A Goldie’ Duchess Olga who mated to ch Hazlemere Ronald  produced George Cook’ Widmere Duke .

William Henry Watts seems to have been the only breeder who could made use of ch Peter Piper’ stud services as , Mr Royle’ own litter by PP aside , Watts’ two litters by Peter Piper  were the only KCSB registered ones who could boast that outstanding GOM PP as a sire .

The Races of Dogs by Count  Henry de Bylandt published in 1897 mentions  WM Watts of Liverpool as the President  of the Northern English Mastiff Club ;  the edition published in 1904 mentions WN Higgs  of Liverpool as President of that same Club . Note - The census return of 1901 mentions him as residing at West Kirby ,  ca ten miles away from Liverpool . This William Norman Higgs , born at London May 1866 ,  is also mentioned by some source as one of the founder members of the OEMC (the Old English Mastiff Club) but this seems to be unlikely as the   OEMC was founded in January 1883 , WN Higgs at that time   only a  sixteen years old boy  ...